Sunday, 22 January 2017

Toasty toes and fingers in Yorkshire.

Between Christmas and New Year we decided to go and burn off the Christmas Dinner we enjoyed at Paul's parents in Scotland.(Also the chocolates and sweets which were in bowls everywhere and I just couldn't resist again and again....)
We set off from Clapham, for some of the route we followed part of the Yorksire Dales 300 route and the rest of the time we made it up!!   It was pretty chilly, riding in and out of mist, we had a great stop in Malham for coffee and cake followed by an uphill on the road which warmed me cockles and nearly saw me apple pie again.  We continued to Kilnsey where we cut out some of the route and headed up the road.   As the sun set and the temperature dipped and dipped a chilly downhill encouraged us to divert along the road to Aysgarth.  Sitting at the bar in the pub I held back the tears as the hot pains came rushing violently into the fingers.  We considered ringing a local youth hostel to see if there was a room for the night.  Then we had strong words with our brains and bodies saying,  "Toughen up, you are northerners".   The Wheatsheaf in Caperby was our next stop with an amazing pie (not apple but steak this time) and beers resulting in us feeling much cheerier and ready to bivvy out if the bothy was not open.  A slog from Castle Bolton lead us to a bothy, our spirits were high when the door was unlocked and these soon became sky high by the time we were wriggling our purple toes in front of a roaring fire.

A peep out the front door as the sun rose saw that the ground had been kissed by Jack Frost.  Wrapped up, hot porridge and a brew in our tummies set us up for a beautiful ride out, a detour from the route with an amazing ride across the moors.  We were grateful the ground was frozen, by mid morning we were heading into Bainbridge and stopped at the Village shop for warm food and snacks.  Fresh coffee and baked beans on toast covered in melted Wensleydale - perfect.  As the afternoon came upon us we continued dreamily along the route surrounded by the yorskhire hills, stopping to observe the landscape and enjoy the delicious sausage rolls bought earlier.  The sky glowed red, blessing us as we enjoyed the last descent down towards Clapham.  The heat was turned on full blast as we dived into the van, quickly filling the kettle for a brew.  Just what we needed.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Fun in the Costa del Sol - GR249 Spain

Just before Christmas we both had a week off work and last minute decided to go on a bikepacking trip.  The flights to Malaga were really cheap and I convinced Paul the trip would be as cheap as going up to Scotland!  So we booked flights and then found the GR249  and quickly downloaded the route on our Garmins and viewranger, packed up our bikes and set off.

Landing in Malaga we took the local train to Torremolinos, built up our bikes at the campsite and set off cruising along the promenades.  The trail was classified as a 'footpath', with many sections being suitable for riding, however Paul does love a 'hike-a-bike' through thick bushes up rocky trails which the trail delighted us with.  My love of gauze bushes came flooding back.  This was an amazing trip with a variety of trails and views from the coastline to rugged mountains to olive groves, to salt lakes, to amazing cliffs of rock.... often sprinkled with picturesque and historical white towns/villagers.  We were never short of interesting villagers to stop in, soak up the atmoshpere, eat delicious food in and find a comfortable bed for the night.  Yes that's true, due to mixed weather on this trip (any excuse) we spent a few nights enjoying the local accommodation - luxury!

Would I recommend this as a bikepacking route?  Yes, but a little more research into each section would be advisable and plan alternative routes for some of the more (technical) unrideable up and down sections.  eg Marbella to Ojen - the track never appeared, carrying and pushing your bike through tight bushy, rocky singletrack for 8 miles gets a bit tedious.  Esteponia to Marbella - a large chuck is riding on the sand dunes, we did a bit and then quickly detoured onto the roads.

We soon learnt that sometimes the easier flatter sections can be the hardest!  Due to the amount of rain Spain had recieved in weeks before, unfortunately the usual beautiful sandy olive groves had become muddy tracks and the soil in the fields had become thick, gooey CLAY!  Yes after carrying our bikes laden with clay across fields, cleaning them for 20 minutes to repeat the process again and again we finally took a lovely road detour to the next section whilst being splatted with slowly drying clay.  Due to time we did have to miss out a few sections but hopefully one day we will be back in the area to try these out!

A great adventure was still had, with loads of amazing tracks and singletracks.  Enjoy the pictures and start making plans for 2017. We are!

Day 1 - Torremolinos - Nerja

Day 2 - Nerja to Competa

Day 3 - Competa to Alfarnate

Day 4 - Alfarnate to Fuenta de Piedra

Day 5 - Fuente de Piedra to El Burgo

Day 6 - El Burgo to Genalguacil

Day 7 - Genalguacil to hills above Marbella

Day 8 - Marbella to Torremolinos